We took a sharp blow for the 2nd straight national election. Many of us thought it could not be worse than it was in 2006. We were wrong. This year was worse. It is disappointing and painful for those of us that believe so strongly in the principles of the Republican Party. Our challenge will be to define those principles and to find candidates who share them, promote them, and are true to them.
When I became Chairman of this Party in March of 2008, I spoke across the County about 2006. I said the following: "We took it on the chin in 2006...and we deserved it." I believed those words. I believed those words because we had strayed from the core principles of the Republican Party. We talked about lower taxes--and we raised them. We talked about smaller government--and we grew it. We talked about limited government--and we used government more than ever. It has been hard to watch.
As the leader of the local Party, I recognize the limitations that our organization has in changing the image of a Party that gets its image on a national level. However, there is a role locally and I intend to lead us to a return to our principles as a Party on a local level by finding, supporting, and promoting candidates who can do two important things: (1) be committed to principled, conservative, common-sense governance, and (2) show a dedicated commitment and ability to WIN races.
Tuesday was bad. But, it could have been worse. Much worse. The Hamilton County Republican Party scored some successes in the face of a Democratic tsunami like we've never seen before. We are not satisfied with the result. But, we should recognize a few of our accomplishments:
1. The Clerk of Court's office will stay with a Republican. Patti Clancy ran an impressive and overwhelming campaign and received every resource available from the Hamilton County Republican Party to hold this important seat. Many thought this race was an automatic win for us. The polls told us otherwise. I have no doubt that the campaign run by Patti Clancy and the efforts of the local Party made the difference. A win in that race was the highest priority of the Party and we accomplished this goal.
2. The Recorder's office will likely stay with a Republican. Rebecca Prem Groppe is an award winning Recorder and she worked as hard as anyone in this County to keep this seat. Although there are still votes to be counted, we are optimistic of a win in that race.
3. The Treasurer's office will stay with a Republican. Rob Goering recognized the changing environment in this County and staved off a serious challenge from a strong opponent. Rob's opponent ran a steady campaign and was running county-wide for the 2nd time. We will hold this critical seat for four more years.
4. Our only Republican seat on the County Commission will stay Republican. Greg Hartmann won by over 30 percentage points over a motivated opponent that worked across the County. Although many may see this win as part of "the deal," that does not tell the full story. In an environment as poisonous for Republicans as this was, nobody was "automatic." This was a good win for our Party and for Greg.
5. We suffered one net loss in the Courthouse and held onto Judge Dave Davis' seat with an overwhelming win by Commissioner Pat DeWine.
In scoring these victories, the Hamilton County Republicans outperformed Sen. McCain in this County. President-elect Obama ran one of the great races of all time. He is a unique figure in American history and is an inspirational leader to many. His ideas and ideology are misguided and I suspect the American people will ultimately see this. But, his political impact is a singular moment in American history. We held on to several key offices in the face of this onslaught. In fact, if Recorder Groppe wins, we will have held every single county wide non-judicial office (something we did not do in 2004 with a loss in the Coronor's race).
We had some success on other fronts:
1. Bob Mecklenborg, Bill Seitz, and Peter Stautberg all won races and will represent us in Columbus. These are three highly intelligent, motivated people that are strong Republicans.
2. We were on the right side of the onerous Red Light Cameras. Our local Party urged a "no" vote on Issue 7 and the voters agreed.
3. We took a position on Issue 8--Proportional Representation. The voters agreed with our endorsement of a "no" vote on this issue.
I intend to push forward and continue to fight for our candidates and for our principles. The demographics of this County have made it more difficult for Republicans. But, we are not done. Not even close. This County will be more competitive because of changing demographics. We need to change to accomodate the voters. We will do that.
In the coming weeks and months, I intend to listen to every constructive and respectful voice that wishes to be heard about the future of this Party. I intend to visit every Club, every group, and every candidate that I can to discuss the future and to listen. While listening, I intend to lead. I intend to lead us in a direction that makes us more principled, more open, and more organized. And I intend to continue winning races.